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Army to be deployed for ‘free and fair’ general election

ISLAMABAD (PEN) : The caretaker federal cabinet Tuesday accorded approval to a summary seeking deployment of the Pakistan Army and troops of civil armed forces to help the civil institutions in holding free, fair and peaceful general elections — slated to be held on February 8.

The development came during a meeting of the federal cabinet held with caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar in the chair.

“The troops will perform duties in sensitive constituencies and polling stations and will also act as a rapid response force,” read a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

On the recommendation of the Ministry of Interior, the federal cabinet unanimously okayed the deployment of the Pakistan Army and the civil armed forces personnel at sensitive polling stations across the country during the upcoming general elections.

Speaking on the occasion, the interim premier lauded the efforts of the Caretaker Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar for increasing the tax revenue in the country, improving the tax-GDP ratio and the detailed proposals made regarding the administrative structure of the Federal Board of Revenue.

He reiterated that the government supports proposals regarding FBR reforms.

PM Kakar also directed to establish an inter-ministerial committee under the supervision of the finance minister in light of the opinions of the cabinet members regarding the FBR reforms.

The cabinet approved the formation of a search committee for the appointment of the vice chancellor Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University Islamabad on the recommendation of the Ministry of National Health.

The huddle also endorsed decisions made during the Economic Coordination Committee’s meeting held on the 9th of this month.

Last month, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) sought 277,000 army personnel to be deployed to maintain security, and law and order situation across the country whose 126 million voters will choose their representatives next month.

With the year 2023 culminating as one of the worst, since 2015, in terms of terror-related incidents, the country’s upcoming polls are surrounded by doubts over the security and safety of both candidates and voters.

Despite several violent incidents, and attacks on candidates, political parties have been continuing their electioneering efforts to woo voters, however, several politicians have voiced concerns over the law and order situation — with some even moving the Senate seeking poll delay in this regard.

Earlier this month, an independent candidate, Kaleemullah Khan — who was eyeing to contest polls for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s PK-104 — was shot dead in North Waziristan.

Hours later, a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Shah Khalid was also killed in Swabi after unidentified assailants riding a motorcycle opened fire on his car.

Additionally, several other leaders including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Aslam Buledi, National Democratic Movement’s (NDM) Mohsin Dawar and National Party’s Lala Abdul Rasheed, and Senator Kohda Akram Dashti have also come under attack in the ongoing month.

Owing to the precarious situation, the caretaker PM had also formed a high-level committee to oversee security for the polls.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Army had also vowed to provide necessary military assistance for the upcoming general elections.

It is pertinent to mention, that Pakistan Army soldiers along with Rangers and Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel will perform election duties following the Interior Ministry’s summary’s approval by the caretaker federal cabinet.